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Juan Cole, Informed Comment: Amanda Knox and Troy Davis

Amanda Knox and Troy Davis
by Juan Cole, October 4, 2011

The overturning of the conviction for murder of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito by an Italian court on Monday contrasts with the fate of Troy Davis.

In both cases, a conviction was built on shoddy evidence. In both cases, during the appeal the weakness of the case became apparent. But in the US, the verdict was allowed to stand. If Amanda Knox had been in Georgia’s legal system, she would probably be dead instead of on an airplane home.

Would it help for appeals in the US, like those in Italy, to have a jury? That step might counter-act the natural instinct of any court to preserve its authority by resisting a charge of having made a major error. The Italian system often modifies the original judgment on appeal, which seems to me a virtue. Would it help if attorneys could serve on the appeal juries, as in Italy?

Would it help for the United States, like Italy, to abolish the death penalty?

That is obvious. But it won’t happen as long as a significant part of the country actually cheers executions (the part that otherwise claims ad nauseam to be ‘pro-life.’)

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